How to Identify Furs

By Laura Hageman

Real fur is made from an animal's coat. The most common animal furs used are from foxes, rabbits, otters, minks and raccoons. Fur is used for outerwear, accessories and/or decoration in a home. The expense of a real fur will depend on the animal it is taken from. Faux fur is an alternative to real fur: It costs less and does not sacrifice an animal's life. Both men and women wear real fur, and it can be identified by looking for certain features.

Fur coat on mannequin
credit: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Step 1

Feel the texture of the fur. Sable and mink are both extremely soft and shiny. Sable is lightweight and silky. Mink has richly tinted, smooth fur. Almost all animal fur will feel coarse if you push the hair upward against the grain while mink and sable remain soft. These furs are used mostly for stoles, hats, collars and sleeves since they are very expensive and rare.

Step 2

Look at the thickness of furs. Otter and raccoon furs are the thickest with several layers of hair. These animal furs are very durable and are particularly great for outerwear. The hairs may not be very soft, but they provide the most warmth from cold weather. Raccoon furs have become increasingly popular for coats and hats. Otter fur is also used often for multiple items such as sportswear, coats, boots and hats. These furs come in tan, grey, light brown, dark brown, and black and silver colors.

Step 3

Recognize the most frequently used furs. Rabbit and fox furs are used for multiple items, including coats, stoles, hats, gloves and household rug hangings. They are also used as trim on hats and gloves, collars, hems and cuffs. Foxes and rabbits are some of the easiest animals to breed for their fur and are the easiest to sell. The fur is soft and medium length. They come in a wide variety of colors, including blue, silver grey, yellow, black, white and tan, olive green and dark brown.

Step 4

Notice the fur that has the best water resistance. Harp and ring seals' fur are the best to wear during windy and rainy weather. They are not as warm as other types of furs due to the absence of an underlayer of fur, but they are highly durable. Seal fur is used for pants, skirts, vests, coats and purses and comes in shades of brown and white.